To our policy owners:
Although COVID-19 sadly continued to impact our nation more than any of us were hoping, I am pleased to report our dedicated team of agents and employees worked together to ensure we delivered on our promise of being there every day for you and millions of others.
Our agents set new records for insurance, annuity, and investment sales by helping more individuals and families obtain what you already have: the peace of mind that comes with a secure financial future. At the same time, despite low interest rates and ongoing economic uncertainty, our surplus – the capital above and beyond the reserves already set aside to pay benefits – ended the year at an all-time high. And while we have paid more than $1.5 billion in additional claims over the past two years because of the pandemic, our annual operating earnings – our profits – equaled the record we set in 2019, another reflection of your company’s underlying financial strength.
As gratifying as these results are, what is perhaps more important is how they were achieved. Our value of humanity remained at the forefront of all of our decisions and actions impacting you, our employees, our agents, and the communities where we work and live. Although our people have found ways to stay connected even though most have not been able to be together in person, we look forward to reconnecting in our offices this coming year to revitalize and further strengthen our special culture of mutual respect. Recognizing that the one thing we all share regardless of our physical environment is the belief that we are part of something special and bigger than any one of us, we also continued to raise the bar on ourselves to support social justice and help ensure inclusion and opportunity for all. To this end, during 2021 we made a three-year, $1 billion impact investing commitment focused on supporting small businesses, affordable housing, and other development projects in underserved and undercapitalized communities.
In a dynamic world of both recurring and unprecedented challenges, continuity of principled decisionmaking in an organization is essential and, as always, entirely dependent upon thoughtful succession planning of leadership at all levels of our company, beginning with our Board of Directors. Last April, after more than two decades of dedicated service, our esteemed member Betty Alewine retired. Her distinguished career in the telecommunications industry included serving as President and CEO of COMSAT Corporation. While Betty’s insights and wealth of senior leadership experience cannot be replaced, we know we will all greatly benefit from the contributions of Barbara Novick, who joined our Board in October. Barbara is a co-founder of BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, and recently retired as Vice Chairman after a 33-year career.
In November, as the final stage in a multi-year succession process, the Board elected President Craig DeSanto as New York Life’s next CEO. With a career spanning more than two decades with our company, Craig has held leadership roles and produced outstanding results in virtually every line of business. Moreover, Craig possesses a deep appreciation of our culture and values and understands the responsibility that comes with fulfilling our mission of providing financial security and peace of mind to you. His extensive knowledge and experience in our business, his commitment to our framework for principled decisionmaking, and his clear vision for our future, makes Craig the right leader to take on this role upon my retirement in April.
I have had the privilege of serving as your CEO since the summer of 2008, shortly before the financial crisis emerged. Despite the substantial pressure placed on all financial institutions from the economic freefall and the deep erosion in consumer trust, I was confident at that time that New York Life was prepared to not only navigate this environment but emerge stronger than before. Few companies had the experience and institutional DNA from having navigated the U.S. Civil War, the 1918 global pandemic, two world wars, the Great Depression, and other significant recessions. And even fewer institutions could honestly say that they maintained the same business model and guiding principles for responsible decision-making and risk-taking in the run-up to 2008 as they did throughout their long history of success. That is why when we were faced with a crisis like the current global pandemic, which is a human tragedy of epic proportions, your company was able to be there when it mattered most and prove, once again, that it is indeed built for times like these.
It has been my greatest honor to lead this iconic institution for the past fourteen of its 177 years in business serving people like you. Thank you for choosing New York Life to help you create a secure financial future for yourself and those you love. You can rest assured we will continue to be here whenever you need us.